To teach what's right, or what's in the book? | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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To teach what's right, or what's in the book?

mumbai Updated: Feb 26, 2013 02:00 IST

As a teacher new to the state in the 1990s, Ravi D encountered scores of errors in the state board textbooks. This was the beginning of a decade-long campaign to personally try and change these by routinely writing to the board.

"I used to write to the centre in Pune, but they would not respond," he said. "Every year I would send two or three letters. The teachers are confused, they don't know what to do and the mistakes get propagated."

Errors in textbooks are as problematic for school teachers as they are for students. Teachers are often torn between wanting to teach what's correct and what the book is saying, or worse, worried that the correct answer may not hold in an exam because it's not what's in the book.

"In case there is a mistake in the textbook, we explain to students that they must write what is mentioned there for the board exam, but also teach them the correct concept," said Seema Dinesh, a science teacher at Children's Academy, Thakur Complex, Kandivli.

The paucity of textbook options also means that teachers' hands are tied. "We have no option but to use the state board textbook - this is not like CBSE or ICSE, there is only one book," said a teacher in a private school.

Principals pointed out that it was the duty of the teacher to address discrepancies to avoid confusing students.

"Textbooks are a means, not the end. It is up to the teacher to guide the students correctly," said Anjana Prakash, principal of Hansraj Morarji School in Andheri.

However, teachers can be more proactive, said some.

"In many cases, it is the students who point out errors and bring them to the notice of the teacher, instead of the other way around," said Arundhati Chavan, president, Parent Teacher Association United Forum. "This shows that teachers are not preparing well. Ideally, the teacher should research every chapter thoroughly before coming to class."